Recently I saw Spike Jonze’s Her. It’s a thought-provoking film and, whether you’ve seen it or not, you’re probably aware of the basic premise.

Sometime in the indefinite future, Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore,  a lonely man pining for his ex. At work, Theodore ghostwrites letters for clients who want to address loved ones more eloquently than can  they themselves. Theodore is good at his work, writing poignant letters that are admired by clients and colleagues alike. And so the theme of mediated communication and its fallibilities is established. Theodore’s work reflects the anonymity and obscuring layeredness of  computerized communication. Theodore helps clients to “sound” more articulate than the really are. And despite the fact that Theodore is so adept at the letter-writing, he struggles to effectively communicate with the flesh-and-blood people around him, especially women.

Consequently, Theodore is attracted to a new Operating System that has its own, customized personality and is intuitive—that is, it grows in knowledge and character over time. Theodore’s personalized OS is named Samantha, as voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Samantha talks in a sultry, seductive voice, and visits with Theodore about his life, frustrations, and aspirations. Samantha and Theodore chat throughout the day and often in the middle of the night, when loneliness strikes most keenly. Eventually they even move to the equivalent of phone sex.

Theodore is happy with his OS girlfriend until she confesses to him that she has several hundred other boyfriends. After all, she has no body and has the capacity to communicate with many people at the same time and many places. It is Theodore’s embodiment, his limitations of time and place, that makes his expect that there might be such a thing as monogamous fidelity. Samantha, unconfined to time and space, is inherently polyandrous.

Such themes as being “meat” versus the untethered disembodiment  of cyber existence are well established in science fiction. Her explores these themes deftly and insightfully. If we are not far from the reality of intuitive machine intelligence, such developments suggest we’ll rather soon be having more intense theological discussions about the meaning of embodiment. This will bring fresh explorations of Incarnation, as well as the meaning and viability of monogamous fidelity. Her offers an early starting place for just such discussions.